With the launch of Houseology's exciting new online destination, The Studio, comes a whole host of dynamic brand collaborations and design exclusives that we are delighted to be able to share with you. One of the most hotly anticipated collections to join The Studio comes from established Glasgow-based design studio, Graven. With a huge range of projects under their belt, from interior design to branding, the team at Graven have an amazing wealth of experience and have drawn on this rich background to create a brand new collection of designer home accessories available exclusively at Houseology.
We speak with Graven's creative director, Janice Kirkpatrick about the inspirations behind the new collection and her love for materials and manufacture...
Q: How has the Graven aesthetic developed since its launch in 1986?
A: As with art, you get from design what you take to it. In design there’s no substitute for experience and you never know when something you’ve lived through, seen or touched will become useful. The world is changeable and complicated and, having worked all over the world, I’m now fascinated by the ‘everyday exotic’ things on my doorstep. They are a rich and unexpected source of inspiration that make my work about a very special place that’s different from everyone else’s.
Experience also allows me to make decisions quickly and be confident that they will work. There’s always a million potential solutions for every design ‘problem’ and I’m good at taking chances and going along with things because I feel good about them. I also enjoy using colour in unconventional ways and I love working with high quality materials, craftspeople and manufacturers. I can’t see the point designing products that don’t have meaning. A cushion might not change the world but it can bring you pleasure every day. It can make you feel good about your space and give you a window to another world.
Q: Where do your initial inspirations come from when you begin working on a collection?
A: Graven is a city centre studio and there are always many projects of different scales happening at any one time. Like all professional designers, I have a strongly ingrained creative process that allows me to identify and test the possibilities of a project and create a number of potential design solutions. I also draw on my personal experiences to uncover original and surprising things, like hidden histories or critters hiding in the undergrowth that are a rich source of strange and unusual patterns and products.
I also search for value and beauty in things that are regarded as rubbish such as pests and weeds. Maybe I should start drawing litter!
Q: Can you tell us a little about the Graven design process?
A: Design is a team sport. Graven is a traditional studio; a place where designers draw, refine, test and evolve ideas and collaborate on projects. I like testing my assumptions and ideas with other designers to get different perspectives on my work. This keeps me fresh and on my toes and helps me push my ideas further.
Q: Graven has worked across a whole range of design disciplines, what is it you enjoy about product design particularly?
A: I love real materials that take on a patina of wear and improve with age. I’m a big fan of enduring quality and very fond of the things that I hang on to, those pieces that transcend fashion and stand the test of time. When I was younger I used to buy very fashionable chairs but I soon got tired of them because their attraction was superficial and ultimately become more about status - as soon as I realised this, these chairs became generic and boring. If I have to see the same thing every day, I like it to reveal itself slowly, not shout the same one-liner every day. I like real materials with carefully considered finishes and details, especially wood and leather.
Q: What are the most difficult aspects when creating products?
A: Without a doubt the hardest thing about creating products is finding manufacturers who share my vision and have the skills and energy to make them well. I really enjoy working with craftspeople and those who have in-depth industrial knowledge. I always find workshops and factories very exciting places to visit!
Q: How would you describe the overall look and feel of this new collection?
A: I always find it hard to separate myself from what I create. My biggest pleasure has been having time to draw and paint all the daft things that interest me, there’s so much more I want to draw and I can’t wait to get started! This collection is cathartic, which probably explains why it is expressive and idiosyncratic. I like to think of it as using design to recycle overlooked things and reveal mundane, or forgotten, beauty that we overlook.
Q: The products are created in the UK, is manufacturing locally important to you and Graven?
A: Manufacturing is really important to me and to Graven. I have a dread of some future archaeologist digging up Glasgow or Ayrshire and finding no products from these places. In a world where every designer migrates to the same trade fairs in Milan, Frankfurt or Paris in the search for new products, it’s even more important to celebrate local design that offers something unique.
Q: Is there one design in the collection that you have a particular fondness for?
A: I like the small Byke cushions that use the pattern at large scale, especially the green colour palette. I also like Whorl because it’s energetic and coordinates with almost anything.
Q: What style of space do you think the collection works best in?
A: Our new patterns work well across a spectrum of interiors from minimal Scandic style spaces to eccentric stately homes.
Q: Do you have any golden rules when you are designing a space?
Rules are most helpful when you truly understand their purpose and can break them usefully - this comes with experience and confidence. In design there are few absolutes as every situation is different, generally, it’s good to get the space right before worrying about how to decorate it!
Q: How would you describe your personal interior style?
My own style is definitely eclectic and evolving because there’s an endless source of new things to discover.